Kenya is a very accessible (open-position) hemiola study in the style of African folk music. The hemiola here is a steady rhythmic pattern that alternates 2 groups of three beats with 3 groups of two beats.  To understand, begin by clarifying the rhythm of the bass line in the first four measures, clapping and counting aloud as indicated:

Though the meter is 6/8, it’s best to count the 2nd and 4th measures in 3/4, since that’s how they actually sound.  Notice also the staccato marks over some bass notes (dots below the noteheads).   Staccato means to give notes more detachment.  An easy way to achieve this is to play the note with p, and then immediately prepare p back on the string to dampen it.

This opening bass line also establishes a “theme” that recurs throughout (as seen in notes circled) while chords and melody are added above.

To help keep the notation simple, the main melody is somewhat hidden.  Starting at m. 9 it sounds as the highest voice in the texture and should be played out when possible.

Removing the bass and filler notes, the melody is clearly seen:

To make this study sound more African in style, try playing with a staple over strings ① and ② and one over strings ② and ③ .  This same effect is used in an earlier study Kalimba. Also, for more about hemiola, see The Shearer Method Book II, Classic Guitar Developments, pp. 99-101 or the Shearer Studio article, Air.


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